Alex Arestis

Experience – curriculum vitae

Before establishing Context Office with Victoria Wägner Alex gained expertise in urban design and architectural practice in London, Scotland and overseas. He has worked on numerous public realm, residential, commercial and cultural developments, site specific arts and education projects. Alex has experience at varying scales – from designing street furniture to houses, gardens and individual buildings, shaping whole streets and district plans. 

Alex works to identify opportunities for communities, councils, businesses and charities. He has been instrumental in stakeholder engagement to unlock complex projects on high value sites and in sensitive locations. He collaborates with architects, engineers, arboriculturists, heritage, sustainability and lighting experts to synthesise proposals, overcome issues and deliver designs to completion. 

Recently at Context Office Alex has worked for the London Borough of Ealing in Acton, leading on urban design proposals and analysis in a multi-disciplinary team. His work on active travel, local character, green spaces, town centre health, employment and demographics has shaped principles and strategies for the future development of the area. Alex has worked in close collaboration with other team members to engage with local people, identify opportunity sites and draw ideas for the future of Acton’s diverse neighbourhoods. 

Alex is directing Context Office’s public realm proposals for Shepherd Market in central London. He has worked with colleagues and stakeholders to understand the particular conditions of streets and how they are currently used, in order to propose increased pedestrian space, new natural stone paving, art, lighting, tree planting and other features. Alex is embedded in the team developing the detailed highways and public realm designs for Westminster City Council.

Alex worked collaboratively for the Arts and Culture Team of a national infrastructure project to identify and develop sites for public art landscapes. The ambitious project involved Context Office analysing sites across rural, industrial and urban locations for major artist commissions. Alex’s work brought together the identification of potential sites, proposals for spatial layouts and better connections for local people, understanding visibility and engineering parameters as well as relevant art and design precedents to produce artist briefs. 

Other projects Alex has led at Context Office include Future Dorking for the Dorking Town Partnership BID. Alex also worked for Cork Street Galleries and the Pollen Estate to bring a programme of public art to Cork Street in the heart of the Mayfair art galleries quarter. 

Alex was previously Urban Design Director at Publica. He joined in the company’s founding year of 2010 and went on to lead numerous research and design projects until early 2020. At Publica, Alex directed the urban design of Bond Street and Hanover Square’s public realm for Westminster City Council, as well as designs for adjoining streets including Burlington Gardens and Savile Row. He led teams to research the area and propose changes, helping to build consensus and secure funding from businesses and statutory authorities. He then led the design of material interventions for the streets and gardens, working closely with highways engineers and contractors – from concept ideas through stakeholder engagement and approvals to detailed design stages. These interrelated projects create large areas of pedestrian space, better walking connections and cycle infrastructure, minimising the impact of vehicles in the area. The projects renew vital green spaces, restore historic views, improve the setting of listed buildings and developments as well as the new Elizabeth Line station, humanising the public experience in this busy part of central London. Bond Street’s completed improvements received the accolade of ‘Best Built Public Space’ at the 2019 New London Architecture Awards. 

Other key projects Alex shaped in his years at Publica included a holistic plan for the neighbourhood around Selfridges, the first stages in the transformation of Strand-Aldwych, a greenery strategy for the Baker Street district, studies and propositions for Soho, the Oxford Street and Regent Street areas. He developed holistic roads and pedestrian proposals for Marble Arch, strategies for the Victoria area, and he directed the re-design of Marylebone Lane. Alex worked on multiple projects to set design briefs and help shape the public features of buildings, collaborating closely with leading architectural practices including Grafton, LDS and David Chipperfield.

Alongside professional practice Alex has dedicated time to teaching on university architectural courses. He has set multiple academic programmes to explore the design of public buildings in English coastal towns, as well as in London’s Regent’s Park. He has been a studio director and visiting lecturer at the University of Brighton over many years, tutoring RIBA award winning student work. Alex has lectured at several UK universities, as well as at the 2014 UN Urban Future Conference in Graz. 

Alex has particular interests in urban trees, the development and architecture of Glasgow, and the conditions of the modern Mediterranean city.